Field Insights

The Sky is the Opportunity for Soybean Success

The partnership between Palmer Flying Service and Syngenta provides retailers and growers with fungicide aerial applications to help increase soybean yield.

Aerial application of fungicides is a two-step that Suzi Palmer, of Palmer Flying Service, and Syngenta’s Kelsey Vance perform to the beat of their customer’s farm operations.

Palmer and Vance work together to deliver information on the value of aerial applications, especially for fungicides. For example, they organized a winter meeting for a retailer where Syngenta shared technical expertise, explaining how fungicides applied at early reproductive stages impact yield, while Palmer Flying Service explained the technical mechanics behind effective aerial delivery.

“The meeting fostered better understanding of how fungicides and aerial applications can improve crops,” Vance says. “The retailer’s orders — and their growers’ yields — have increased since then.”

It’s the same each season when aerial agricultural applicators from Palmer Flying Service in Manito, Illinois, take to the skies. They apply fungicides and other inputs to thousands of acres of corn, soybeans and specialty crops in central Illinois.

Most of their business comes through ag supply cooperatives and retailers. Aerial applicators quickly and efficiently cover many acres, which is especially valuable when application timing is critical or weather keeps ground rigs out of fields.

Their season starts with aerial dry fertilizer applications in the spring and wraps up with cover crop seeding in the fall. But the bulk of their business is in-season fungicide applications, with insecticides included when needed.

“About 75 to 80% of our business is applying Syngenta products,” says Palmer, who manages Palmer Flying Service.

For support, she relies heavily on Vance, her local Syngenta sales representative. Together, they make sure Palmer Flying Service delivers for ag retailers and growers.

alt Slide Image
alt Slide Image
alt Slide Image

Constant Communication

“Communication is key,” says Palmer. “The cooperatives we work with have agronomists who know what their customers need. Our pilots need to know where the field is and what to apply. And the growers need to know when the application will happen.”

Palmer, much like air traffic control, is at the heart of that communication.

Before the season, Palmer and Vance work together, estimating product use for the area Palmer Flying Service covers. They text and talk regularly, ensuring product is where it is needed during the hectic fungicide application window.

Palmer receives orders for aerial applications from local retailers for their customers’ fields. She schedules those jobs and conveys information to the pilots. She calls growers directly letting them know when to expect airplanes to make applications. She even helps load the airplanes.

“I fill gaps between growers and pilots,” Palmer says. “For example, I called a grower to inform him an airplane would soon be on its way to spray. He needed time to move the cows in the pasture next to the field, a detail that hadn’t been included in the information from his retailer. I let the pilot know about the delay and to watch for the cows.”


When we do have issues, Kelsey helps us find solutions. In my mind, she is Syngenta. She willingly helps with problems, even when they aren’t product issues.

Suzi Palmer Manager at Palmer Flying Service

Technical Education and Support

In May 2022, Palmer and Vance provided technical support to aerial applicators throughout Illinois. Palmer Flying Service hosted a calibration fly-in for pilots, sponsored by Syngenta. Pilots tested their application swath width, evenness of coverage and spray droplet size to prepare their airplanes for the season. This calibration improves the quality of aerial fungicide applications.

To build their knowledge, Palmer and Vance attend regional and national ag aviation conferences together. They also tag team to solve problems that arise.

“Complaints are rare because Syngenta products work well,” Palmer says. “When we do have issues, Kelsey helps us find solutions. In my mind, she is Syngenta. She willingly helps with problems, even when they aren’t product issues.”

“Suzi is a true partner,” Vance says. “We work well together to serve retailers, always in the best interest of growers.”

The friendship between Palmer and Vance goes well beyond aerial application. Their fathers attended a rural grade school together in the mid-1960s.

At that time, Kevin Palmer was growing up next to the private airport operation started by his father and a partner in 1957, while Rick Vance was growing up on the farm he eventually took over with his brother.

Kevin was fascinated by airplanes and looked forward to following in his father’s footsteps.

“I was born into aerial application,” he says. “I grew up loading and washing airplanes, doing whatever I could to be around them.”

He began flying at age 15, and he earned certification as an aerial applicator in 1987. He purchased the business in 2005, becoming the owner of Palmer Flying Service. When he needed help about five years later, he asked his daughter Suzi to join the business.

“I’m not a pilot or a mechanic, but I take care of everything else we do, from ordering and billing to unloading product shipments,” she says.

Rick Vance’s love of farming influenced his daughter Kelsey. Her Syngenta territory includes the Vance family farm, where she remains involved, running equipment and providing agronomic support.

Today, Kelsey and Suzi are married and raising their families in their hometowns, though the women are known in ag by their family names. Their teamwork ensures that Palmer Flying Service and local retailers effectively serve farmers like the Vances for generations to come.

  • Early-season fungicide application can increase soybean yield potential.
  • Syngenta works with Palmer Flying Service to foster an understanding of aerial application.
  • The partnership ensures aerial applicators provide the service retailers and growers need.